A grant of €250,000 has been allocated to develop an outdoor artistic and cultural performance space on the Bray seafront.
The stage area, which will be located at the northern end of the Bray esplanade, near the North car park, will make the link between public space, arts and culture and potential audiences. It will include a tent canopy structure providing cover for the performers, treated hardwood seats and a backdrop. It will also be equipped with sound and lighting equipment.
It is understood that the new small outdoor theater will be built slightly below ground level to minimize its impact on the views of residents living in the waterfront area. It is also hoped that it can provide a social space that can be used by Bray residents and visitors.
It is intended that an encircling pedestrian access route would act to frame the space and connect it to the existing main footpaths and waterfront promenade.
The proposed development is at an early stage and has yet to go through the Part 8 planning process. Architectural drawing preparation work is now expected to commence to enable the public consultation and engagement process . The construction of the new site could start at the end of 2022.
Wicklow County Council has secured a grant for the cost of the outdoor project from the Department of Tourism, Culture, the Arts, Gaeltacht Sport and Media’s Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021.
Although the final cost of the project is not yet known, it is expected to exceed the allocated grant. The local authority said it is committed to providing the additional funding needed to cover the cost of the project and to providing “best in class” urban amenities for the town.
Wicklow County Council chief executive Frank Curran said: ‘The project is strategically aligned with the wider infrastructural development of the town’s seafront and harbor areas, which have recently secured significant investment from funding of Urban Regeneration and Development (URDF). It will add to and complement adjacent projects such as the proposed Port of Bray redevelopment and the recently completed Seafront Plaza program which has created high quality civic space providing a suitable and safe place for pedestrians and cyclists.
Municipal District of Bray’s Cathaoirleach, Cllr Aoife Flynn Kennedy, said: “The development will provide much needed performance space for use by community groups and local artists. The space will be innovative in its design offering wide public access with designated wheelchair facilities. It will include space for workshops and dance performances as well as art fairs, yoga, pilates and other cultural projects. It will be a creative and visible space for arts and culture located in a prominent public thoroughfare, integrating the arts as a normal part of life in this historic area of leisure and amenity.
Wicklow County Council’s Cathaoirleach, Cllr Shay Cullen, has congratulated the Borough of Bray for securing funding for the project which he says will achieve the aim of improving a high quality key open space to maximize its functions as a public facility and a tourist attraction.